Suggest you call around and as any licensed electrician if they turn off
the main breaker when replacing a branch circuit breaker (unless the
breaker being removed is physically damaged of course). Suspect you
won't get a single affirmative answer.
Do you also turn off the main breaker when changing a light bulb? Or do
you call an electrician to change them for you because you're afraid?
I'm a licensed master electrician in two States with 30 years
experience, doing mostly large commercial and industrial. I supervise
10 to 20 experienced journeyman electrician's. I can assure you that I
de-energize _all_ electric equipment when possible. I encourage all
electrician's on my crew to de-energize all equipment, use PPE, and
lockout/tagout. If it is an inconvenience for the customer, we will
schedule a shutdown. Sure, electrician's work stuff hot, but not
without assessing the hazards, taking precautions, using PPE, having
people around (and who stay far enough away) who are capable of
rendering assistance should something happen, etc. I do not permit
inexperienced electrician's to work anything hot, period. In this
newsgroup, with mostly inexperienced people doing DIY, IMHO it is
irresponsible to tell folks to work _anything_ hot.
Anyone who has done any amount of electric work knows that a lot of
work is done hot without PPE; it's just the nature of the beast.
However, I can tell you plenty of horror stories about how
electrician's and others have been seriously injured working electric
equipment hot. Part of being qualified to do electric work is being
aware of the _hazards_ that exist. I personally am amazed at the
number of people who are aware of shock/electrocution hazards, yet have
no idea that there is also an explosion hazard.
One thing is for sure, should one make the personal decision to work
electric equipment while it's energized, should an accident happen, the
_first_ thing that that person is going to hear from someone ( _IF_
he/she is still alive and _IF_ he/she can still hear or see) is:' You
should have de-energized that equipment."
Indeed the LO/TO and PPE are appropriate in an industrial / commercial
environment, however do you or would you ever turn off the main breaker
to replace a branch circuit breaker of the snap-in variety in a
residential panel (barring physical damage to the breaker being
Like I said, as long as shutting it down doesn't cause a problem, if
I'm doing it, it's gonna get shut down. Nor will I ask anyone else to
do it hot. If your next question is what do I do when I change out a
residential service, the answer is that I'm not going to leave a
customer without power for 2 or 3 days until it gets inspected and
permanently connected by the Power Co., so, yes, I'll reconnect it hot,
bare handed. You can believe that I make -sure- that I'm not grounded
and the meter is pulled.
While I see your point -- I would consider it irresponsible to suggest to a
NEWBIE that it would normal for them to replace a bkr in a panel without
throwing the mains off.
I've worked bare-handed on 345kv lines but I sure as h wouldn't recommend it
to the in-experienced.
BTW, I tend to believe in Murphy's law and when I've done work on panels I
shut the main off.
With all due respect -- since your initial response was to an obvious newbie
you were in effect suggesting it.
I prefer to respond VERY cautiously to someone who has just bought a book at
K-mart on BASIC home wiring.
But, at least at transmission voltages, you (usually) have enough advanced
warning that you're getting too close before anything bad happens. Nothing
like a low current streamer off the elbow to remind you.......
Elbow -- only if it's outside the conductive suite. Take the goves and hood
off and you'll get em off the finger tips, nose, ears, etc.
As you get closer you'll hear the corona off of the line and hardware.
Yeah, but the iron won't KILL you if you absent-mindedly reach for something
in the box to push against, whilst getting the old breaker to come off the
rail. OF COURSE you turn the main breaker off, and keep in mind the panel
often still has exposed hots at the top when you do this. Yeah, resetting
all the clocks and stuff is the house is a PITA, but they don't call it good
workmanlike practices for nothing. I'm no electrician, but working as a
general construction gofer as a kid, I had the safety stuff pretty well beat
Having said all that- it ain't rocket science, but since OP has clearly
never done this before, I <strongly> recommend they pay somebody to walk
them through it the first time. Local ad paper often has semi-retired
licensed electricians who do little jobs like this pretty cheap, especially
if you pay them in cash. At an absolute minimum, OP, should buy one of the
DIY books about home wiring and read it, if he hasn't already. Remember,
safety rules usually come to be because some cowboy hot dog tried to do
something the quick way, and fried himself.
Well, you're seriously wrong. I've done my own electrical work for years
and have worked on electrical projects with numerous other people, both
residential and commercial and I've yet to run into anyone who shuts off
the main when changing branch circuit breakers, including removing /
installing bolt on breakers (Insulated nut driver and gloves of course).
The snap in breakers that are the norm in residential and many
commercial installations are specifically designed to be easy to remove
and install on a live bus.
Well, the OP, who's an obvious novice, doesn't have to listen to any of
us. He can just do a simple google search for "replacing circuit
breaker". There are plenty of websites with info. He can see what
they recommend doing. And I'm sure he'll find that virtually every one
of them has turning off the main breaker as the first step. Then he
can decide what he thinks most people would do and make his own choice.
That wasn't the point, my response was to you very incorrect "And I
seriously doubt that most people don't turn off the main breaker". I
have no doubt that any DIY home wiring book or online equivalent has a
lawyer mandated "turn off the main breaker" warning regardless of the
validity of such. I seriously doubt any lawyer has ever changed a
circuit breaker either.
You can claim it to be incorrect if you want. Neither one of us is
going to prove one way or the other what most people do. It's good
to see that you recognize that virtually every source you will find
online says to turn off the main breaker first. And I disagree that
it's just for legal reasons. I don't see anyone saying to turn off
the breaker to unplug an iron, which was the bogus analogy brought up
And what exactly is the big downside in not turning off the main
breaker, which is staring you right in the face? Is it because your
crazy aunt is on life support in the attic? Or is it because you want
to show what a he man you are?
You can do what you want. My main problem is Toller replied to a
newbie saying "most people don't turn off the main breaker when
changing a circuit breaker." IMO, that comes pretty close to
suggesting that the newbie should just go ahead and do that too, as
it's no big deal for anybody to do it that way.
On 17 Jun 2006 10:06:16 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Hey I'm the newbie :-)
I really spent a number of hours on the computer looking up how to do
this. The pictures in addition to explanations never really spelled
it out as to is the wire connected to the breaker live or not after
you shut the breaker off and snap it out. I am assuming it is not,
but just want to be extra sure. (There are only two more breakers to
do and it seems silly to try and find someone new to do this)
This all began because a few months back I had an electrician (shortly
afterwards found out to be unlicensed) come to the house and was
swapping the breakers for ones which matched my panel brand which was
his advice and he did manage to get a small shock in the process, but
I was not clear exactly from what since he seemed to be following the
method suggested in the books that do not call for turning off the
I personally don't mind resetting the clocks ect because I do not plan
anymore electrical in the house for anytime in the foreseeable future.
Besides, every time the power goes out in my area things need
resetting and I have it in a routine.
Thanks again for everyone who spent the time to help me out with these
One more quick question and thank you very much for those that
I bought a few ceramic ceiling fixtures (15amp) which I want to put in
my basement to replace old existing ceramic ones. They will fit onto
metal boxes. I bought the one which has a light socket with a single
three pronged single receptacle on the side. This will attach to 12/2
wire on a 20 breaker.
Is this ok to do because I read somewhere that it is ok to have 15amp
receptacles on a 20amp line once it is not a single (as opposed to
double) receptacle. Also that it is not a single double instead of a
series of doubles.
First, don't get caught up with numbers too much. How many times do you
think 15A outlet will draw full 15A constantly when a device is plugged
in? Breaker is safety device, when things are not right, it'll trip.
Electrician did the wiring few years ago, ever breaker tripped? Ever had
trouble? What does it say? Within the code, common sense prevaials.
Knowledge without experience is useless or even dangerous. Catch 22,
you gain experience by doing......
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